Hungary: Commission freezes more than 13 billion euros in European funds

Budapest will have to continue his efforts in matters of rule of law to obtain their thaw.

by Jean-Baptiste Chastand (Budapest, Special Envoy) and Virginie Malingre (Brussels, Bureau European)

The government of Viktor Orban is a master in the art of presenting the slightest setback in a brilliant victory. Thus, he welcomed, Wednesday, November 30, the recommendation announced on the same day by the European Commission to freeze more than 13 billion euros in European funds which were intended for him, because of its drifts in matters of law law . This decision “did not surprise the government,” said the Minister responsible for Hungarian European funds, Tibor Navracsics, during a press conference, during which he preferred to insist that Brussels would have classified the Post-Covid-19 Hungarian recovery plan “among the best” of the whole European Union (EU).

Wanting to be reassuring, the minister said that “in six months” an “agreement will be concluded with the Commission” to allow Hungary to receive European money “in 2023”. 1,500 kilometers from Budapest, it is however a completely different music that was played in Brussels.

For the first time in the history of European construction, the Commission officially requested a freeze on European funds as part of two parallel procedures triggered due to the authoritarian excesses of Viktor Orban. On the one hand, the suspension of 7.5 billion cohesion funds, which will still have to be approved by a vote of the member states in the coming days before entering into practice. And, on the other, the freezing of 5.8 billion post-Cavid-19 European recovery funds, for which the Commission certainly approved the payment on the principle, but by conditioning it to 27 measures supposed to allow the restoration of ‘A rule of functional law in Hungary. “No payment takes place as long as these essential conditions are not correctly met,” said the executive vice-president of the Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, during a press conference.

ready to new compromises

The community executive hesitated a lot to cross such a step, but faced with the pressure of the European Parliament, which left the threat of a censorship, he finally opted for the hard line. There is an “open hatred of the Hungarian” in the European Parliament, denounced in return Gergely Gulyas, the chief of staff to Mr. Orban. Hungary faces a difficult economic situation with record inflation, a fall in its currency (the Forint) and a brutal increase in interest rates, which limits its negotiation margins. Behind the Fanfoons messages especially intended to feed the local propaganda media, it thus seems ready to make new compromises.

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/Media reports cited above.